Neighbors: Enjoy a safe, COVID-19-free Halloween


Staff Writer
Published: 10/26/2020 7:03:14 PM

Good morning, neighbor.

Halloween is upon us, but like many other things in our lives over the past seven months, it’s just not going to be the same this year.

I know my grandchildren have been looking forward to it, and some of the towns they live in are allowing trick-or-treating but have canceled the “organized” events the towns typically put on.

No matter, their parents are either taking them to homes of people they know or to small outside gatherings of school friends, who they’re in school with two days a week anyway.

It’s always so much fun watching them dress up. I haven’t asked the twins, Owen and Travis, what they’re dressing up as this year, but I’m guessing they might just decide to be football players — one of their favorite backyard activities at this point. Their sister, Lilah, is going to be 2 in a couple of weeks, so she’ll probably wear whatever Mommy and Daddy decide — something warm, I’m sure.

Justin did tell me that he’s going to be Indominus Rex from the first “Jurassic World” movie, and then he put the costume on for me and stomped around, so I was very happy to get that preview. His 2-year-old cousin, Drew, another of my grandbabies, will also be a dinosaur — I’m guessing T-Rex.

Kids are resilient, so they’ll all find a way to have fun this Halloween. Everyone should just follow the usual safety measures, like carrying light sticks or flashlights, bundling up if it’s cold and staying in groups, along with trick-or-treating in familiar neighborhoods, to name a few.

The main reason I wanted to do this column is to provide you with some COVID-19 safety tips the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) has provided. I also talked with Heath Board of Health Chair Betsy Kovacs.

“All of us in public health, are very worried about teens gathering during Halloween and at other times,” she told me. “That is a surefire way to spread the virus.”

Betsy also shared that from state data, she and others have learned the No. 1 way the virus is spreading in Massachusetts is in homes.

“One person brings it in and infects others at home,” she said.

She said she and other public health officials, as well as all residents of the county and beyond, have to be as creative as possible for Halloween and the upcoming holidays.

“We want to preserve our holiday traditions and way of life while protecting our health,” Betsy said. “We are a tremendously resilient country, and we can be super creative at inventing new ways if we put our minds to it. With the holidays coming — and the habit of gathering in large family and friend groups, inside, for long, lingering dining, hugging and loud voices, some singing, travel by air through airports, all behaviors which we know will lead to the increase in the spread of the coronavirus — we must invent new ways of celebrating and having family and friend time together.”

FRCOG offers safety tips from the state Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Safer activities include decorating pumpkins with members of your household or small groups of friends outside at a distance.

They also suggest having a virtual costume contest and/or holding a Halloween movie night with people you live with. You could also have a scavenger hunt trick-or-treat style at your home.

It’s less safe to go door-to-door, especially to homes you don’t know, or having an outdoor parade, but not quite as risky as attending indoor costume parties, going to an indoor haunted house or going on hayrides.

So, maintain the 6-foot distance, gather in small groups outdoors, wear a mask under your Halloween mask and bring hand sanitizer wherever you go. And for those who are handing out candy, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, don’t invite anyone into your home and don’t allow people to grab candy from a bowl.

Also, don’t participate if you’re not feeling well. If, for any reason, you think you were exposed while trick-or-treating, quarantine so that you don’t expose anyone else, and get tested.

By now, we’ve all learned to live life a different way — to protect ourselves and others — so I think we can all do this safely and still have fun.

Senior Reporter Anita Fritz grew up in Franklin County after moving from Spokane, Wash., when she was just a few weeks old. She covers Greenfield and does regional and COVID-19 reporting for the Greenfield Recorder.

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